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The cupola of El Duomo virtually defines the Florentine skyline.  
Credit: Photodisc 
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El Duomo is one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of the Renaissance, it was the highest and largest dome ever built, and the first constructed without a wooden supporting frame.  
Credit: manelzaera/Flickr 
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Several bridges connect the two sides of Florence from the River Arno, the most notable being the Ponte Vecchio, dating back to 1345. Grand Duke Fedinando de Medici couldn’t take the stench from tanners and butchers who occupied the bridge’s buildings. In 1593, he declared only jewelers and goldsmiths could vend there. They remain its occupants today.  
Credit: artorusrex/Flickr 
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Built on 117 small islands, Venice contains 150 canals and more than 400 bridges.  
Credit: Neil Beer/Photodisc 
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Because there are no cars in Venice proper, all transportation is via gondola or on foot.  
Credit: Stuart McCall/Photographer's Choice 
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Italy's Cinque Terre region is named for five coastal towns, all connected by a hiking path. The birthplace of pesto was once a hideout for pirates; now the strand of villages is a gem in the Italian Riviera.  
Credit: Corbis 
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Tuscany produces everything from wheat to olive oil. But it’s the region’s wine that receives the most acclaim—Chianti, named for the district in which it’s produced, is savored by wine-lovers worldwide.  
Credit: francesco sgroi/Flickr 
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Though fall is a dynamic time of year in Tuscany, spring is just as magical. With the sunshine (and rain) comes fields of Tuscan wildflowers. The weather is moderate, with an average of 70 degrees from April to June—perfect for flower-field walks during the day and chilly enough at night for an open fire stoked by last year's olive tree off-cuts, Italian-style.  
Credit: Dennis Flaherty/Photographer's Choice 
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Located in the province of Siena, Montepulciano is a small town encircled by walls dating back to 1511 and set among the rolling plains of southern Tuscany. It is a town known for its steep streets, built upon a sloping and narrow limestone ridge, that are adorned with Renaissance-style churches, palaces, and palazzos.  
Credit: PhillipC/Flickr 
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Portofino, a fishing village dating back to Roman times, occupies the east coast of the Parco Naturale Regionale di Portofino. The Parco stretches into seven municipalities of the Liguria province, containing a bounty of both natural and man-made wonders.  
Credit: IK's World Trip/Flickr 
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Built by the emperor Vaspasian in the 1st century A.D., the Colosseum was Rome’s first permanent amphitheater. The structure held 50,000 spectators above ground, while the lower level was a maze of passageways and rooms.  
Credit: Photodisc 
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Almafi is positioned on the steep slopes of the Lattari hills, overlooking the Bay of Salerno. The Almafi Coast is one of Europe’s most breathtaking spots, evident in the amount of tourism the town sees annually, now one of the top means of income for local families.  
Credit: Richard Nowitz/National Geographic 
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Urbino may be the most beautiful hill town in Italy and much more appealing than Cortona, the town Frances Mayes's book Under the Tuscan Sun has turned into a people zoo. Urbino is a walled city, and the city’s center, the romantic Piazza della Repubblica, is home to cafes and gelaterrias a stone's throw from the boyhood home of Renaissance master Raphael. The windy, steep cobblestone roads are nearly void of cars and lead to such treasures as the Palazzo Ducale, a sprawling palace built in the 15th century.  
Credit: David Madison/Photodisc 
 
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